Perfect Peace

We’ve heard people say being grandparents is the absolute best, and both the Verkaik’s and the Spykstra’s can add an emphatic YES to that! In the last few months Mike and Dawn and Patty and I have been blessed to add two grandson’s to the Oceans’ Team.

We lost our hearts the moment the little miracle was placed in our arms. Even though we were warned by many how amazing it is we still weren’t ready for the overwhelming bond of love cascading out of our souls.

I told Patty, I have found my new calling, a stay at home grandpa. I will miss my wife when she heads back to South Africa, but someone has to make the sacrifice to be watch my little buddy! 🙂

In all seriousness it is a miraculous gift that Abba Father uses to remind us what really matters in life and the gripping power of love. When we’ve had the opportunity to babysit Owen, time stands still and hours seem like a few minutes as we once again rediscover what caring for a baby is all about.

During one of those precious moments of holding him and watching him sleep I thought about Isaiah 26:3:

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!”

This to me is about as good as it can get at describing what “perfect peace” looks like. Even though outside the walls of the house chaos and pain seemed to be swirling out all over the world. All Owen and Abram know at the moment is love, warmth, security, free food when he cries and a whole lot of adoring attention from mom, dad, and a host of family and friends.

As I thought about the latest headlines in the news; the demonic shootings, atrocities of war, political corruption, food shortages, corporate greed, and on and on the list could go. Abba Father said, “become like a little baby again rest on my lap and fix your eyes on Me and let Me hold you. securely in my arms.”

Something happens when we rest on our Father’s lap-gazing into HIs glorious face – as the old hymn declares:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things on earth will grow strangely deem in the light of His glory and grace.”

Thank you baby Owen and Abram for teaching your grandparents again that perfect peace comes from the Prince of Peace who holds His kids in HIs forever loving hands.




The Safest Spot in the World

Let me explain the picture above. I know it seems rather odd with little visual appeal- yet for me- it is a place of profound significance. Patty and I are back in the States for a few months to experience what it feels like to be first time grandparents. It is over the moon awesome, but I’ll save the details for another blog.

This past Sunday we attended a church in Colorado where life changed for me as a young teenager. Even though a new church just took over the building a few months ago, the flood of memories stirred my soul. The Pastor preached a powerful sermon on the blood of Jesus from Hebrews 9.

It brought me back to a Sunday night on a snowy November 26, 1978, where a pastor from England preached on the perfect blood of Jesus that poured out for sinners on a cursed cross. To this day I can’t explain how a shy, angry 13 year old made his way to the front of the church, other than by the supernatural grace of Father God.

I will never forget kneeling at this particular spot with streams of tears soaking the floor. A man prayed over me, “hide this young man behind the cross of Christ.” As he prayed it was like a hand picking me up and placing me behind the cross. I experienced a peaceful love and a liberating joy that made that floor feel like the safest place on earth. The shame of sin was replaced by waves of forgiveness and belonging.

Sunday as we were singing “what can wash away my sins, nothing but the blood of Jesus” my eyes went to the place in the front of that church where years ago I was brought into the safest place in the world. It has been 43 years since the Father took me from death to life and placed me behind the cross of Christ. He has proven over and over again His presence-opened up by the blood of Jesus-is a home like no other.

After the service I revisited that secure spot. I took a picture to remind me of the day when God the Father brought me home by the blood of His Son. This perfect blood keeps me in His loving presence without shame or condemnation forever. The blood that says I’m His son. He will never leave me or abandon me. No matter what happens in this volatile world, I live in the safest place spot in the world, within the arms of my Abba Father.

I pray you can revisit the place where you received the blood of Jesus and were brought into the presence of the Father, the safest place in the world!

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus: What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! Precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow: No other fount I know Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

 This is all my hope and peace – Nothing but the blood of Jesus! This is all my righteousness – Nothing but the blood of Jesus.





40 Days to Change the World?

If a worldwide poll was conducted today with the question, “Do you think our world needs change?” I’m confident a resounding majority would wholeheartedly reply, “Yes!” Then if the next question was, “What needs to change and how?” I would predict millions of varied responses and solutions to the world’s problems. There is no doubt that our world is bleeding with hurts, wounds and unresolved conflict.

Thinking about our worlds and reading Acts 1 I halted at verse 3. The more I focused on this verse the more I realized Jesus’ strategic plan to change the world:

“During the forty days after He suffered and died, He appeared to the apostles from time to time, and He proved to them in many ways that He was actually alive. He talked to them about the Kingdom of God.”

I wonder what my response would have been during those 40 days after Jesus’ death and resurrection? Realizing Pilate, Herod, and all the political power players on earth got it wrong I may have engaged in some strong talks with the religious establishment. Perhaps I’d point out the error of their ways and maybe even stopped by for coffee with the movers and shakers of that day.

But not Jesus, His 40-day plan to change the world was to go to His doubting disciples who had no spiritual influence, no political clout, and no financial resources to turn the world right. Jesus’ method seems madness to most of the play- books of the popular influencers of our day.

Yet the fact that you are reading this blog shows the effectiveness of His 40 day plan to bring in a new Kingdom. A Kingdom that brings the deepest impact of transformational change in the human heart like nothing else can.

Here’s Jesus’ plan:

1) Reveal His Resurrection to His followers proving everything He taught is true. A truth that shows through His death and resurrection they have been brought to the Father and they are forever His beloved children.

2) His Kingdom is not physical but spiritual. Jesus came to take over hearts with His Spirit of forgiveness, healing and love. His Kingdom is not temporal-based of the things of this world-but rather eternal coming down from His thrown in Heaven.

After 40 days of seeing and listening to the plan, His followers owned it and began praying into it. Next step a 10-day prayer meeting and “The Plan” was sealed in their hearts by the empowering of the Holy Spirit. As a result the world saw the Resurrected Jesus in these disciples and transformational change began to happen one heart at a time.

His plan is the one and only plan that will heal the bleeding wounds of our broken world. Our world needs to see the signs of the Resurrected King Jesus in His followers.

I ask myself does the world see in me any convincing signs that I have been raised from the dead in Christ? Do they see the spiritual fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control from my heart? Do others see Jesus’ Kingdom power flowing through my weakness by His Holy Spirit?

Most certainly I want to see change in our hurting world. I may even have some answers, but I realize it must first take place in my heart and the heart’s of all who claim to follow Him.

“I Spoke to Him this morning, He lives”

Written by Mike Verkaik

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. – Colossians 3:1

As I read through the Colossians 3 and 4, that verse resinated with as I reflected on conversations and interactions at the motel. It was a rough week emotionally for many of the children and adults. A spirit of negativity, sarcasm, and subtle, or not so subtle, comments flooded the airwaves in and around the perimeter of the motel. Toxic words stung deeply, as children jockey for status and acceptance by making others feeling small.

After witnessing a young boy make yet another bad choice, I retreated to the car with another volunteer disheartened and disappointed. Waiting to depart for our afternoon activity, a pray  for a changed heart was offered and God put the lyrics to the song This is My Father’s World in my mind and I began to say:

This is my Father’s world:
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet.

What an amazing and present God we serve. In the midst of harsh, bitter and demeaning words He reveals Himself and reminds us that the struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

One volunteer texted, With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and fight our battles. (2 Chronicles 32)

God has woven together an incredible group of volunteers to bring His presence into the storms of the daily life of so many served. Indeed God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)

Walking into arguments, harsh conversations, and degrading comments, we praise God for how He works in and through our responses. In turn these responses give a platform for His message of forgiveness, love, grace and peace to pierce the enemy’s darkness and model a different response than the tense-filled retaliation of bitter and demeaning words to control.

Although the recent events exposed the brokenness of our fallen state, the reminders that as believers we have weapons of dwelling, prayer, and praise that God has given to combat the onslaught of discouragement, hopelessness and despair. In the midst of chaos our Father prepares us, equips us and comes alongside of us as we seek more and more of Him.

Read the following texts, prayers and interactions revealing how His followers are moving into the generational battles that we are fighting against.

Volunteer 1: I was meditating on several verses about the resurrection and God impressed His incomparably great power to bring resurrection at the hotel. Read Ephesians 1:18-19!

A prayer from Volunteer 2: By the power of Your Word and Spirit, bring light into the darkness. Bring shalom into the chaos. Do what you are famous for. Break the power of satan’s hold and set the girls free. Pour your life and love back into us, Your workers. All this matters Lord. Don’t waste a tear. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Volunteer 3: Could you lift up some extra prayers for the kids tonight? Lots of spiritual and verbal battles going on at the hotel while I was there for girl’s night 😕 but God is at work too. An attempted suicide brought up a long and good conversation with the rest of the girls about their own suicidal thoughts. An intense screaming match led to a wonderful moment of forgiveness between two girls. Draining – yet the glimpses of God are encouraging.

Volunteer 4: As I was reminded this week again. If the ministry is hard it is a sign that we have our enemy’s attention, which is expected if we are bringing light to the chaos. Praying for a breakthrough as residents see the peace God is bringing into the storm through His words spoken through us.

As the week came to a close, I was driving to deliver medication to the jail for a hotel resident, admitted a few hours earlier. Approaching the jail the Holy Spirit prompted me to listen to some praise music. Turning on the radio Jehovah Jirah provided an old song that I love, My Redeemer Lives. (Nicole C. Mullen) It was just the reminder I needed.

Now, I know my Redeemer lives I know my Redeemer lives
Let all creation testify
Let this life within me cry I know my Redeemer …..

As the song came to a close, my favorite unwritten words were sung, “I spoke with Him this morning, He lives!”

Yes, we have the ability to come into the throne room of our Father every moment of our lives. As people who have been raised with Christ, join us in using the weapons of praise, dwelling and prayers for revelation, restoration and revival to usher in the kingdom of our Father to earth.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3: 16-17)

15,555 Steps with Jesus

We do a lot of walking in South Africa. Most everything we need is within walking distance from Oceans Retreat Center. So at the end of the day Patty and I have a friendly competition and check our walking app to see who got the most steps in.

The other day I was reading the story in Luke 24 about two people walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, which was about 7 miles. That’s a lot of steps, so being a little obsessed with steps I calculated the journey to 15,555 steps. That’s a great day, it beats our average.

But what is even more amazing than their step count is whom these two were walking with. For several reasons I believe these two are likely husband and wife. I visualize them in a deep conversation discussing the events that transpired that weekend which was news of the death of Jesus and the reported resurrection.

In the midst of their pondering Jesus shows up as a stranger and joins the dialogue. Jesus must have been smiling on the inside as He listened to them recapping one of history’s greatest events. I wonder how far along they were in the journey when they paused and Jesus took over the conversation, but whatever step they were on most certainly they would never forget those sacred steps nor should we.

Jesus opened up all the Scriptures to them and shared how all of this pointed to His glorious work on the cross and the victory of the Resurrection (vs. 27). What happens next is absolutely amazing, as Jesus was invited into their home for a meal. The visitor became the Host, which is exactly what happened at the Last Supper before His death.

“He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.” (vs. 30-31)

What a gift! This couple encountered a personal revelation as Jesus fed them the truth of His everlasting love. And as He vanished from their sight they described they experienced “burning hearts.” Hearts sealed with Heaven’s love.

As I quietly replayed this story in my mind I wondered why Jesus chose this couple to walk with Him and have the first communal meal with them after His death? It occurred to me that this is what Jesus wants for all His children to grasp. Even though we don’t always get it in our busy, distracted and doubt filled world. Jesus is beside us. He walks every single step with us through out the day. And just like the couple in the story we may not always recognize Him-BUT He IS present!

Jesus’ perfectly completed work opened up our hearts to His Kingdom and our hearts are now a dwelling place for His Holy Spirit. His Spirit teaches us and daily opens the truths of Scripture. The Spirit comes through the broken bread and the cup and reveals the gift of the Father’s love in the sacrifice of His own Son to forgive us and heal us.

This post resurrection story is a reminder from Jesus to us that every step we take throughout the day is precious because our Savior through His Spirit walks with us. As you take your steps today listen for His voice. What is He trying to say to you? How is He seeking to encourage you? Remember even in your valleys, doubts, and misunderstanding you never step alone!

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20